Jul 21, 2012

Prescribing of Antipsychotic Drugs for Dementia Patients Drops Sharply

There was a 52 per cent reduction in the number of people with dementia receiving a prescription of antipsychotic medication.

Alzheimer's Reading Room

Prescribing Antipsychotic Drugs Dementia Patients
The percentage of dementia patients being prescribed antipsychotic drugs fell sharply over the last six years, says a new report from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC), U.K.

However, there was strong regional variation, with rates of prescribing of antipsychotic drugs up to six times higher in some areas than in others.

The use of antipsychotic medication can lead to serious side effects for people with dementia.

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The first ever national primary care audit on the subject shows the percentage of dementia patients being prescribed antipsychotic drugs fell by ten percentage points in the last six years – from 17 per cent in 2006 to seven per cent in 2011.

Information from nearly 197,000 people with dementia from more than 3,800 practices in England was submitted to National Dementia and Antipsychotic Prescribing Audit.

Its findings showed:
  • There was a 52 per cent reduction in the number of people with dementia receiving a prescription of antipsychotic medication from 2008 to 2011
  • The number of people newly diagnosed each year with dementia in the participating practices increased by 68 per cent in the years from 2006 to 2011.
  • There is a higher prevalence of diagnosed dementia in women (66 per cent) than in men
  • The majority of people diagnosed with dementia were aged 65 years and above (95 per cent)

HSCIC chief executive Tim Straughan said: “This audit breaks new ground in examining prescribing patterns for dementia patients and highlights areas that GPs and other practices who want to deliver the best possible care need to focus on.

“It is encouraging that prescribing of antipsychotic drugs is falling. However, it is clear that the picture nationally is mixed and that everyone involved in the care of those with dementia needs to look carefully at how they compare with others in their practices.”

The full report is at www.ic.nhs.uk/dementiaaudit

Alzheimer's Society comment:

'This momentous achievement is not just about statistics, it is about the lives of tens of thousands of people with dementia. Credit is due to the many doctors, nurses and care workers without whom this would not have been possible. It also reflects the hard work of campaigning organisations such as Alzheimer's Society to raise awareness and change opinions.
'However, there are still tens of thousands more people - both diagnosed and undiagnosed - having their lives put at risk by these drugs and some parts of the country are failing to reach the mark. Now is the time to move from fourth gear to fifth to ensure everyone's prescriptions are reviewed and that only those people who benefit are kept on antipsychotics. They must only be a last resort.'

Jeremy Hughes
Chief Executive
Alzheimer's Society



Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room